Mather: Understanding Audiences, Technology, Adaptive Pricing, and Data.

31 August 2023
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For this week’s blog, we spoke with Liesbeth Nizet, Managing Director Europe for Mather Economics, who revealed insights into technology, adaptive pricing, and data, all of which shape how media organisations engage audiences, deliver content, and monetise services.

Liesbeth will be leading a deep dive at this year’s Digital Growth Summit on 26th September in Brussels, Belgium.

Limited tickets are still available.

What is essential when trying to foster a culture of innovation in order to drive growth? 

According to Liesbeth, a layered approach is the most successful since it allows publishers to advance on different horizons and create both short-term and long-term revenue opportunities.

Horizon 1Day-to-day operations. Innovation can happen here by improving your processes via better understanding of your current audience’s willingness to pay and knowing what engages them, both from an acquisition and as a retention point of view. It’s seen as a misunderstanding that innovation should only happen at the acquisition side of the publishing business. 

Horizon 2Reaching out to new audiences. What products or services are they searching for, learning their ways of consumption, and how you can engage and monetise them.  

Horizon 3Partnerships with players from other industries. An example would be creating an ecosystem with adjacent or complementary industries. This is a long-term strategy, but the value should not be underestimated.

It’s not silos anymore, all industries are getting intertwined.

What is important when trying to improve customer retention and customer acquisition?

Customers are at the heart of everything. In a rapidly evolving world, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is outdated. It’s essential to understand the unique behaviours and preferences of each customer.

Today’s society is more diverse than ever. While previous generations may have adhered to more conventional lifestyles which made user journeys more predictable, it’s crucial to recognise that today’s customers require a more personalised approach.

Consider the real value you provide – the impact of features, benefits, or services on the customer lifetime value is paramount. This should be one of the metrics to build subscription offers or subscriber loyalty upon.

Once, news media were the gold standard of information. But in today’s multifaceted information landscape, fact-checking is crucial to maintain accuracy. Including the younger generations, it is important to look into how customers search and gather news from different sources. 

We need to understand what moves the needle for them, not only how to engage but also how to monetise.

And yet, it’s important not to sideline older generations. They represent a significant customer base, and they also have a higher spending power. However, “maximising revenue of audience segments should be based on well-researched drivers.

Do you see any technology that is crucial for business growth in the coming years? 

An obvious answer would be Artificial Intelligence, as it’s already changing our daily lives and will undoubtedly transform the publishing landscape. Embracing digital transformation and technology, can help publishers to understand how it can ease up the life of editors (e.g. faster picture finding) or readers (e.g. AI voice reading an article). However technology should not be a goal as such, rather an enabler to execute your strategy and to achieve your goals.

For example, to generate more revenue with your paywall, a Content Monetisation Engine can be used to decide whether an article or video should be behind the paywall or not. And this engine is completely aligned with your business goals.

This suggests that having a clear strategy and how to use relevant technology to enable it, is much more important than just having the latest cutting-edge technology. 

How do you see AI evolving within the news media industry? 

Generally, technology and AI should be embraced and not dismissed as passing fads. It is important to keep in mind which ones are relevant to your own specific business case.  

However, currently there isn’t a lot of regulation in this space, “especially as a media company, where trust is really important”. AI should help journalists rather than just using it for the sake of it. 

Benefits from using AI includes but not limited to: personalisation, cost efficiency, and uncovering new audience interests.

Are there any insights you could share of publishers that have done exercises on willingness to pay and readers’ willingness to pay on different news products? 

Publishers universally seek revenue growth through increased subscriber volume or higher ARPU (average revenue per user).  

ARPU is closely tied to willingness to pay, as evidenced by Mather’s collaborative studies with other publishers by focusing on factors that extend customer lifetime value.  

Valuable subscription elements like multi-access accounts, games and special editions drive customer engagement and value.

And by tailoring subscription tiers based on insights and optimising revenue strategies, publishers can aim for a mutually beneficial outcome that maximises revenue while delivering value to customers. 

Continuing on that note, can you speak more on adaptive pricing and the data involved?  

Dynamic pricing is trending, seen in events like Taylor Swift’s concerts and the Olympic Games, where prices fluctuate dramatically.  

💡 Maintaining integrity and transparency with customers while exploring higher pricing for willing payers is essential for media companies.

The challenge lies in identifying suitable criteria for segments (which AI and data science can help with) that could embrace dynamic pricing without increasing churn. Balancing the potential benefits against potential backlash is crucial as customers have plenty of options to choose from. 

How can publishers approach the challenge of having limited data on younger audiences who are typically accessing news via side door access or social channels? 

Engaging older generations and guiding them toward subscriptions is relatively straightforward compared to the challenge of attracting a younger demographic.  

Publishers mustn’t accept this difficulty passively; they should explore different methods to uncover behavioural patterns (e.g. social search) and use different conversion strategies. 

Looking ahead, a single subscription model might evolve into various forms such as newsletters and bundles, emphasising on higher level collaboration between subscription teams and technology. 

It’s crucial for these two teams to collaborate closely, combining marketing expertise with app feature innovation to engage younger audiences effectively and pave the way for monetisation strategies

How is data utilised between technology and business, and do you see data itself evolving within the news media in the coming years? 

Manual segmentations are still the norm, but innovation lies in automating the process through subscription intelligence. It entails using gathered data to automate onboarding, forming habits, and optimising customer journeys.  

Together with Danuta Bregula, Brand Strategist for Young Audiences, Liesbeth is writing a report on how publishers can grow alongside today’s youth, and navigating engagement for monetization. It offers an outside-in perspective from media insiders, insights on how to tackle challenges faced by many within the news industry.

The report will provide learnings into how other industries and successful brands like Klarna, Zalando, and TikTok manage to capitalise on similar demographics.  

Teachings of how to adopt this outside-in view, and the utilisation of design thinking and other techniques to build successful strategies will also be included within the report. 

You can follow Liesbeth on Linkedin by clicking here to stay up to date with the report.

Join us at the Twipe Digital Growth Summit

To know more about how understanding audiences, technology, adaptive pricing, and data can help with your business growth, join us at the Twipe Digital Growth Summit on September 26th in Brussels, Belgium.

Managing Director at Mather, Liesbeth Nizet will be attending as one of the speakers, along with a lineup of renowned industry speakers sharing cases and insights.

It will be an exclusive day of learning, inspiration and connecting with industry colleagues. Reserve your spot today while tickets are still available!

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